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Thousands demonstrate to support Romania's anti-corruption prosecutor

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BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Thousands of people rallied in freezing weather across Romania on Sunday, protesting a government call to sack the country’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor and demanding the resignation of the justice minister.

On Thursday, the minister, Tudorel Toader had called for the president to dismiss the prosecutor, Laura Codruta Kovesi for “excess of authority”, a move that would disrupt a crackdown on corruption in one of the European Union’s most graft-prone members.

In Bucharest, an estimated 4,000 protesters rallied in front of the government, braving heavy snow and shouting “Thieves, thieves,” “Tudorel, do something, Resign!” and “Codruta, keep it up!”

Thousands more protested in several other cities.

Kovesi has led an anti-corruption prosecution agency called DNA since 2013. It has investigated lawmakers, ministers, and other top officials and exposed conflicts of interest, fraud and abuse of power. It has led to scores of top officials being sent to trial.

President Klaus Iohannis, who has the final say in removing top prosecutors from office, gave Kovesi his support on Friday and criticised Toader for failing to provide sufficient reasons for Kovesi’s dismissal.

Reporting by Radu Marinas, editing by lLarry King